Back in the heady days of the 2010 election, tea-party-backed GOP candidates loved to rail against their incumbent foes’ use of Congressional mailing privileges as a symbol of the fiscal dysfunction of Congress and the need for sweeping reforms.
So it might come as a surprise to some of their conservative supporters that once safely ensconced in their Congressional offices, many of those same critics have become the biggest users of the House’s taxpayer-funded mailing system.
The franking system is designed to provide lawmakers with a taxpayer-funded way in which to communicate with their constituents about their activities in Congress. Although campaigning is specifically prohibited, lawmakers often walk up to the line of impropriety with the wording of their mailings.
According to an analysis of House disbursement records, from April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012, there were eight Republicans and two Democrats who made up the top 10 Members using the service — Reps. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).